With patent infringement lawsuits launched by GE Wind Energy against Enercon in both Canada and the United Kingdom (Windpower Monthly, May 2003), it was inevitable the issue would be raised at the AWEA conference, in the land where the dispute first started. GE Wind CEO Steve Zwolinski told delegates that intellectual property rights must be protected so companies are willing to make the investments necessary "to take this industry to the next level." Bosses of the world's top wind turbine manufacturers, sharing the podium with Zwolinski on the first day of the conference, supported his view. Both Svend Sigaard, CEO of Vestas-American Wind Technology, and NEG Micon CEO Torben Bjerre-Madsen fully agreed that the industry is maturing and all manufacturers have patents they need to protect. Meantime, Germany's Enercon, busy fighting the European version of GE's patent with the support of both Vestas and NEG Micon, was not present in Austin. It is banned from the US market by a ruling from the US International Trade Commission that Enercon technology infringes a wind technology patent now held by GE.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol